Cheniere energy achieves immediate and ongoing efficiencies with robust, integrated EH&S compliance solution

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Courtesy of IHS

In 1996, Cheniere Energy Inc. was primarily an exploration and production (E&P) company with fewer than 10 employees. Five years later, its leadership team changed directions, remaking the company as a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) import terminal organization. Today, Cheniere has over 200 employees providing customers – such as Chevron and Total – with terminal services that include international ship docking, connection for offloading LNG cargo, storage of LNG in tanks and warming the LNG to inject into a pipeline which then transports natural gas into the United States pipeline grid.

As an E&P company, Cheniere required only a financial system and a document management system. Between 2005 and 2007, however, the company dramatically upgraded its IT infrastructure by building and/or implementing a dozen major applications for governance, compliance and risk (GRC) in what amounted to a brand new beginning for Cheniere.

ESS' Essential Suite was one of those mission-critical GRC systems. Cheniere selected Essential Suite as its enterprise-wide Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) management platform – eliminating the need to purchase specific hardware and expediting the system's launch by opting for a hosted deployment of 9 Essential modules.

According to Terry Lehn, IT Director of Operations Applications, the company looked at various EH&S compliance management systems. 'Initially we preferred another vendor's system but then one of our key users asked if we had looked at ESS,' explained Mr. Lehn. 'He said ESS mapped to Cheniere's requirements better so we took a closer look. We developed a very comprehensive set of requirements and did a thorough review of the product. We had a few hundred line items in the requirements that we considered. We found that ESS provided more of the standard reports that we needed for regulatory compliance – off-the-shelf, already done and ready for use. The other vendor's system would've required us to build or customize all of those reports ourselves. ESS provided a lot more capabilities out-of-the-box in comparison to the other guys – that's one of the big reasons we chose ESS.'

Cheniere's management team recognized that they could save time during system implementation by not reinventing forms for OSHA, EPA and other authorities that already existed as standard reports within ESS. They also discovered other efficiencies with ESS.

Cheniere previously had a permit database that was hosted by a third-party and managed by an outside consultant. Tomira Eason, Senior Applications Specialist, said, 'It was basically nothing more than a list of permits. Thanks to ESS, we were able to bring management of those permits inside Cheniere and reduce the time required to manage them by about 60 percent.'

'We've enhanced operational efficiency and customer service on many levels here at Cheniere by taking every opportunity to integrate enterprise-level information systems,' Mrs. Eason continued.

For example, ESS' Essential Suite platform has been integrated with two major Oracle systems. Cheniere collects, aggregates and manages its employee information in Oracle's HR or Human Resources application, which delivers complete HR capabilities, from workforce management to compensation and talent – automating processes and supporting self-service in order to free up HR resources and reduce operational costs. Cheniere also uses Oracle's Maintenance applications to support maintenance, repair, overhaul, and service operations at its facilities – addressing the full asset lifecycle from specify, buy and install to maintain and retire.

At Cheniere, HR and maintenance data from these Oracle systems is automatically brought into Essential Suite so it can be fully leveraged for EH&S compliance and sustainability management. This enables Cheniere to save additional time and money while safeguarding data quality/integrity by eliminating the need for manual re-entry.

'While ESS hosts the system for us, we can still send multiple data types from internal applications into our ESS system,' added Mr. Lehn. '[That] has helped us comply with numerous agency reporting requirements with a minimal staff of power users.'

Finally, Cheniere's management team is also using Essential Suite to make sure that the company is executing on all of its step-by-step compliance obligations. They are currently using the system to track and document over 200 tasks from assignment through to completion.

'When we first started the project, there were more than 12 people responsible for making sure we were in compliance for all requirements regarding construction, operations and for the terminal and pipeline,' reported Mrs. Eason. 'Now there are 7 people responsible for managing it all. ESS has helped make that possible. With all the tasks centralized in one system, we have accountability and assurance that nothing is falling through the cracks as team members shift responsibilities or get promoted out of the department.'

Mr. Lehn summed it up by saying, 'ESS software has allowed us to manage many regulatory issues associated with constructing and operating an LNG import terminal. There's no question that automating our compliance system enables us to do a huge job, managing all of our various regulatory reporting activities, with minimal staff. We're able to keep track of everything – monitor our data and make sure we're continuously in compliance. Our executive team wants to be kept updated on these points – any notice of violation, inspections conducted, penalties applied or incidents. We're able to provide that information with just the click of a couple buttons.'

The Challenge

  • Set LNG terminal industry standard for best practices in safety and operations.
  • Exceed customer needs of the Terminal Use Agreement.
  • Assure compliance with regulatory, statutory, commercial and financial reporting requirements.

The Solution

Essential Suite® including

  • Essential Air™
  • Essential Chemical Inventory™
  • Essential Compliance Manager™
  • Essential Incident™
  • Essential Industrial Hygiene™
  • Essential MSDS Management™
  • Essential Task Manager™
  • Essential Water™
  • Essential Waste™

The Results

  • Saved 2 FTE months on EH&S system implementation that would’ve been required to build standard reports
  • 60% reduction in time required for ongoing EH&S permit management
  • Contributed to reduction from 12 to 7 in the number of staff responsible for compliance while assuring performance of 200+ tasks.
  • Enhanced customer service and efficiency via integration of operational data – e.g. employee and maintenance data from Oracle into ESS

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